Payol runs through my blood so I was more than excited to see Cafe Mariposa, a restaurant in the Lopinot Valley featured on this year’s TT Restaurant Week schedule.
Like many kids, I spent a lot of time in Lopinot during my childhood. I have very distinct memories of eating multi-coloured cheese paste sandwiches and catching tadpoles in the river there. What I did not have a distinct memory of, however, was the extremely long and winding road that one had to take to GET to that tadpole hunting ground. Like it’s worse than Maracas. So if you’re prone to motion sickness, consider yourself warned.
Anyway, undulating journey behind me, I was very excited to arrive at Cafe Mariposa. Waze was actually sending me another few kilometres down the road…but thank God for relatively sharp eyes because I spotted the Cafe Mariposa sign just as I was about to go trekking to whatever far off land Waze wanted me to visit. It’s literally on your left, just a few metres down from the periphery of the historic site.
Our dining area for the day was the patio space overlooking Mariposa’s “Farm-a-see”, or, you know…garden. Hummingbird feeders were strung up along the edge of the roof, attracting what had to be more than 20 different tiny iridescent dive-bombers. They were very unafraid of people…coming uncomfortably close at some points.
Mariposa’s menu was good old country cuisine with lots of ingredients you can tell were sourced from just beyond their door step.
The starters were dasheen sticks and tostones (smashed plantain slices) served with a home made chutney. I love dasheen in any form so those went down great. The tostones I wish were a little sweeter but I know it’s the luck of the draw with plantains sometimes. The sweet, tangy chutney really elevated the taste profile of both these otherwise rustic dishes though.
Next up was the soup course. Every time there’s pumpkin soup on a menu, I will order it (it also helped that I’m not a big fan of eggplant). It’s definitely a departure from the thick, creamy version of pumpkin soup that I’m accustomed to. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Finally! The main course. I eat lamb on occasion so I was sorely tempted by the Cocoa Crusted Leg of Lamb. However, our lovely waiter recommended that I try the Fresh Agua Viva Tilapia. I do not regret taking his advice. The tilapia was wonderful…and that Green Banana Casserole. was. every. thing. It was hands down my favourite thing on the plate. The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was the rice, and I suspect that’s because I normally only eat brown rice. The stuffed christophene was….christophene.
All in all the entree was pretty good but I would have been happy with just the tilapia and the green fig casserole to be totally honest.
Then came the moment we’d all been waiting for…DESSERT.Now I generally don’t do ice cream. That over-processed, super creamy, high in fat sweet stuff just doesn’t do it for me on most days. But when you see something cited as ‘award-winning’ on a menu…you really have little excuse not to try it. I’m a big fan of cocoa so the Award Winning Cocoa Ice Cream was a no-brainer for dessert. I loved everything down to the presentation.
The only disappointment in this dish was that I couldn’t eat the cocoa pods they used for the presentation, so I recommended they swap those out for a dense sponge cake soaked in cocoa liqueur or something.
After our meal was done we got serenaded by the lovely proprietors (who I later found out are my friend’s mom and aunt).
Only thing to note before you head off to Cafe Mariposa…I should let you know that this isn’t the salty, season-y dishes your palate is probably accustomed to. I am a serious salt mouth and I felt compelled to declare that pretty much everything needed more salt. But when you rock back and really study it though…did it? Does anything really need THAT much salt? I don’t know…enough of the meal was tasty without the all too familiar saltiness we’ve come to expect from our food.
Once all was said and done…the verdict is, I would go back to Cafe Mariposa. But I wouldn’t just go for a meal…right now my mind is on a weekend away from all the noise, all the pollution, and all the bullshit of ‘civilisation’. Instead I’ll take fresh air, a dodgy wifi signal, all the cocoa tea my heart could desire, and see how well I can fare without air condition for a few days. There seems to be so much more to explore at Cafe Mairposa besides the food, and I love how much of their ingredients is either grown in their garden or sourced from people within the area. Sustainable living. I approve wholeheartedly.
So just a heads up…if I randomly go missing one weekend, don’t be alarmed…I’ll be unplugging in Lopinot.